Learn Korean: Easy Ways to Get Started

A group of students posing for the camera

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If you want to learn Korean, then we’ve got you covered. This guide is going to give you a brief overview of everything you need to know when learning Korean. Just follow each section, pick the language learning parts you want to focus on, and go as deep as you’d like.

Just be warned, you might learn Korean faster than you expected! ^^

A group of students posing for the camera

Korean Language Overview

Korean is spoken by over 70 million people worldwide. There are different versions of the language for South Korea and North Korea.

Hand written Hello in Korean annyeonghaseyo

There are different dialects for the 사투리 (satoori) 6 regions of the country. 서울말 (Seoul dialect) is the standard, and 제주말 (Jeju dialect) is the most unique.

We recommend learning Korean by focusing on the Seoul dialect. It’s the best for language learning when you’re first starting out. Once you have that down, you can branch out and start learning some bonus colloquial words to your repertoire.

The Korean Alphabet (Hangeul)

The Korean Alphabet (한글 | Hangeul) is one of the simplest alphabets to learn, even if you are an absolute beginner. You can learn it in a few hours, and be reading Korean sentences on the same day.

Hand written Korean Alphabet Letters Hangeul

We provide a free guide that will teach you how to read the Korean Alphabet in only 90 minutes using visual associations and stories. It’s based on psychology so you will be sure to remember what you learned!

This is probably the most critical step for making any progress with learning Korean. Spent the 90 minutes learning to read the alphabet, and you’ll learn Korean quite quickly. This will also help you speak Korean since the pronunciation of Hangeul is much more precise than the romanized version (한글 vs. Hangeul, for instance).

The Magical Words Known as Konglish

There are a number of words that come from English and other languages. They’re also called “loan words”, but we think Konglish sounds more fun (Korean + English = Konglish). When you begin to learn Korean, get these under your belt first.

Here’s an example of Konglish:

커피 (kupi) = coffee

See how 커피 (kupi) sounds like “coffee”?

You already know more Korean than you thought! =)

We’ve got the full list of Konglish for you. Starting with these words is a great way to learn Korean because they’ll already be familiar to you. Simply read them aloud and see if you can recognize them. Easy game!

Typing in Korean

If you know how to type in English without looking at the keyboard, then it’s fairly easy to learn to type in Korean. And if you know how to type in Korean, it will help you learn Korean faster.

laptop Korean Alphabet keyboard with black keys

There are also other side benefits like being able to send text messages in KakaoTalk and search on Korean websites.

You can get a Korean keyboard for your desktop, or just get stickers to put over them. If you’re a true typing warrior, try downloading an image of the Korean keyboard layout, and look at it as you type.

It’s a piece of cake to grab to get a keyboard on your smartphone or tablet, just head over to your settings and add one in. You’ll be typing in Korean in no time!

Korean Dictionary

If you’re going to learn Korean, then you want to have a solid Korean dictionary.

We’re big fans of Naver dictionary It is the most popular dictionary for native Koreans when they are learning other languages. There is pronunciation for many of the words if you click on the blue speaker near the words.

You can use Naver’s Papago for translations, but don’t rely on it. It’s best to use it as a backup as you’re learning Korean.

Apps for Learning Korean

There are a lot of apps for learning Korean, but it’s best to choose the essentials first. Naver Dictionary is in app form, so that’s an excellent one to grab first.

Naver dictionary icon used to learn Korean

Anki is also a fantastic app for making custom flashcards to help you learn Korean. It’s useful for boosting your vocabulary skills whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Getting a solid base of Korean words will help you learn Korean fast.

KakaoTalk is the main chat app for Korea. If you want to make Korean friends or up your Korean typing skills, then this is the app to get!

Here are the apps you need for living or traveling to Korea. Knowing how to navigate Korean apps can help you learn Korean since you’ll get extra practice with the language.

Get a Korean Name

If you really want to immerse yourself in Korean culture, then make sure you get yourself a Korean name!

Not only will this help you learn Korean, but it will help you with making Korean friends. They will be impressed to find that you’ve got a Korean name.

Typically people get their Korean name by one of these methods:

    1. Write your name in Korean letters
    2. Random name generator
    3. Chose a name from a list
    4. Find a Korean name that sounds like your name
    5. Pick a name with special meaning
    6. Get a Korean name chosen by professionals

We’ve got a complete guide on it, find out how to choose your very own Korean name.

Korean Numbers

Knowing the numbers are a key part of learning Korean. They’re basic building blocks that you can use right away.

There are two numbering systems in Korean. They are called the China System (Sino-Korean) and the Korea System (Native Korean).

The China System is very structured, so you can learn to count to a billion by learning less than 20 words.

Pretty cool, right?

The Korea System takes a bit more time to learn, so we recommend starting with the China System first.

We’ve got a complete Korean numbers guide, so head there if you wanted to level up your number skills. For now, here are the numbers 1- 10:

NumeralChina System (Sino-Korean)Korea System (Native Korean)
1
2
3
4
5다섯 (daseot)
6여섯 (yeoseot)
7일곱 (ilgop)
8여덟 (yeodeol)
9아홉 (ahop)
10열 (yeol)

Korean Vocabulary Words

As you learn Korean, you’re definitely going to want to level up your vocabulary skills. Here is a list of the most common Korean words. Start with these first.

Korean fruits written on index cards in different colors to help learn Korean

If your native language is English, it can be challenging to learn Korean because there isn’t a great deal of overlap with words (beside Konglish).

There are some great strategies for this if you use associations, mnemonics, and stories for the words. For example, the word for “house” in Korean is 집 (jip). The words “house” and “jip” sound very different from each other. However, the word “jip” sounds like “Jeep”, so you can make a story using imagery about it.

Learn Korean words using associations like Jeep for 집 (jip)

If you like this method of learning Korean vocab, check out our free guide called How to Remember Korean Words Easily.

The more vocabulary words you know, the faster you’ll be able to learn Korean.

Korean Phrases

If you want to learn Korean quickly, then it’s good to study these phrases first. These are expressions that you’re going to hear all the time, so it’s easy to become familiar with them.

Then, as you continue to learn Korean and develop your skills, you’ll be able to break down these phrases and understand what native speakers are saying.

English한국어 (Korean)Romanization
Thank You고맙습니다gomapseumnida
Don’t mention it천만에요cheonmaneyo
Sorry미안합니다mianhamnida
That’s OK괜찮아요gwaenchanayo
Hello안녕하세요?annyeonghaseyo?
Excuse me (to get attention)저기요jeogiyo
Excuse me (to apologize)실례합니다sillyehamnida
Excuse me (to pass someone)잠시만요jamsimanyo
Hello (on phone)여보세요yeoboseyo
Good morning안녕하세요?annyeonghaseyo?
Good evening안녕하세요?annyeonghaseyo?
Sleep well잘 자요jal jayo
Sweet dreams좋은 꿈 꿔요joeun kkum kkwoyo
Goodbye (to person leaving)안녕히 가세요annyeonghi gaseyo
Goodbye (to person staying)안녕히 계세요annyeonghi gyeseyo
Get home safely잘 가요jal gayo
Have a nice day좋은 하루 보내세요joeun haru bonaeseyo
Yesne
No아니오anio
Maybe아마도amado
Just a moment!잠깐만요!jamkkanmanyo!

We have an online Korean course that will teach you how to understand these phrases and learn Korean fast. In the first 90 days, you’ll learn how to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean. If you want to continue to learn Korean at an advanced level, we can help you with that, too. It’s 100% online, structured, and go at your own pace.

Korean Honorifics

Korean honorifics are a way speaking that shows your relationship to the other person, the person you’re talking about. They’re important to know when learning Korean because you’ll hear them quite often.

So for example, let’s say you want to talk about your grandfather. Since he’s higher on the social hierarchy than you, then you’ll want to use honorifics with him. You would use different nouns and different grammar which would show that he’s on a higher level than you in the social hierarchy.

To demonstrate, let’s take the word “house”. In Korean, you’d normally say 집 (jip) for “house”.

In the case of your grandfather, you’d use 댁 (daek) instead of 집 (jip) when talking about his house. This could be when you’re talking to him, or about him to someone else.

We’ve got a detailed writeup as well as a list of common Korean honorifics here.

The honorifics an integral part of learning Korean. If you want to learn Korean and get to an advanced level, then you’ll for sure want to become familiar with these. Best to add them to your Korean learning plan and study them now. That way you’ll be familiar with them when you read about or hear them.

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